Kindness ~ Part 2 – my take

I was taken by the thoughts on kindness by my friend, Jayce, so much so I reblogged her post. That would be Kindness, Part 1. One of her commenters, SarahPotterWrites, wrote that helping someone requires discernment – and she also wrote well of the homeless at a glance:

A large percentage of homeless people are there because they have psychiatric issues that require professional help. I’ve also come across beggars who have the equivalent of a business manager sitting in a posh car around a corner to pick them up after they’ve worked a street.
I do hear what you’re saying. Helping a beggar requires discernment, bravery, and common sense. If they’re high on something, stinking of booze, or ranting at imaginary voices, then there’s very little you can do. And inviting random strangers into your house is dodgy at the very least.
It’s an ethical nightmare. I think one must never give up on kindness, but sometimes it’s kinder to walk away from a person than get involved and then find yourself out of our depths, yet we all have done it — me included.

Regarding the homeless, for me, many times what rides me and whispers in my head, is how easily that could be me, and so, even if it is just a wee bit of change in my pocket, out it comes and plink into the cup it goes in hopes that when and if my day comes, somebody will do it for me. A bit of self-service in that gesture, “Hey, God, remember this when it is my turn, please…” and many a friend has chided me for doing so, for all the reasons cited above. I have a couple of distinct memories, both of which bring a smile to my mouth and laughter to my eyes:

Walking through the Venice Boardwalk in Southern California, made famous in all the TV and movies – this is where you see a boardwalk, filled with vendors for tourists, people skating, performing, couples strolling, the flotsam and jetsam cheek and jowl with stars and regular folk, minding their own business, just out to enjoy the sunshine and the sense of festival. I was there with my ex or soon-to-be-ex-husband. Perhaps it was one of our rare days of missing one another and acting upon it.

Rick was rather famous for his drinking, especially right before he died, and so, there we are strolling and we pass a beggar or a homeless person, sound asleep with a blanket over him and his cup just there beside him. I put the change I had in his cup, nothing much, just what was in my pocket when I reached in. I was touched by the idea he had enough faith to simply sleep, leaving his cup unguarded.

Rick, who was always generous, surprisingly chided me for wasting my money. In retrospect, I think this might have just been a side effect of our breaking up over details. However, what I remember, was glancing at Rick sideways, smiling and saying softly, “Oh, hon, he reminded me of you.” … there may still be a sound of sputtering echoing somewhere in the universe… still makes me grin.

The other scene, I may have recounted in a post somewhere here because it is one of my standout memories. One of those that challenge your perceptions and inner biases. I was coming of the Bank of America on 4th and Arizona in Santa Monica, California (the town next door to Venice). I saw a homeless man approaching me. There’s some inner radar signal I send out to people in saffron robes, veterans, and the homeless that helps them key in on me. As he got closer, I was thinking, “Oh shoot. Please don’t ask me for cash.” Sure enough, he met my eyes, stopped and asked, “Would you have an extra cigarette?” I was so relieved, I laughed and beamed at him. “Oh, I’m so glad. Sure! I thought you were going to ask me for some change. I don’t have any.” Without an instant hesitation, he reached into his pocket and pulled out the spare change he had, “Oh, you need some? Here, help yourself.”

I give what and when I can and I let God sort out the rest. “Here, help yourself.” What a priceless lesson that was!

17 thoughts on “Kindness ~ Part 2 – my take

  1. All you can do is what you can.
    I’ve met a bunch of street people with great senses of humor, and some who deliberately chose to live like that.
    There are some great stories out there if you take the time to listen…

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  2. You know, this is really a conundrum. When I worked downtown, I was beset by beggars. Mostly I ignored and just walked on. One day I’ll have to tell you about a sleety day, a few days before Christmas, on my way back to work from a short slipslidewalk to the corner ATM. I love the story of the man who told you to help yourself. The kindness of strangers!

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  3. Love it – the homeless guy offering you change! When I used to work I would find myself in contact with homeless people often. I prefer to offer them food if I can. When I used to smoke, if I needed to enter a building before I was finished smoking my cigarette, I would look around for a homeless person to hand it to rather than crush it out. I bought a strip of bus tickets & if people asked for money for the bus, I would hand them a bus ticket. I once had a guy get quite angry at me because he had approached me at a bus terminal & given me a long spiel about how he needed to get to another area of the city to pick up his vehicle which had been impounded. I offered him a bus ticket – he wanted money. I told him I had no money, but I would be happy to help him with a bus ticket. He walked away.

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    • Oh Benze, good on you and that last line doesn’t surprise me at all. Discernment and judgment are needed and you found a way to answer true need. Again, blessings on you, Benze.

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  4. Another post would be brewing what with the whole homeless thing. i have, myself, been on the brink of losing my house – so much so that people were phoning to make appointments for a viewing – while we were still living there. I know the feeling of ” There, but for the grace of God, go I”
    There are differences though, extenuating circumstances as with everything.
    And this tune popped up in my head…

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    • Wow, J! Thanks for that song! The link wouldn’t play in this country, but I did a quick search on her name and title and up popped one, with the words supplied in the comments. Great!

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  5. Hunt, what a priceless remark, coming from the most unexpected places. Talk about a random act of kindness, you got yours on a silver platter. I also know that encounter impressed you deep inside that 88 lb body, and has been bubbling out ever since. Thank you for all the kindness you have given me. Please take care, Bill

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